Budget takes important first step on health literacy and self-care

Consumer Healthcare Products (CHP) Australia commends the Morrison Government’s decision to fund the development of “a national health literacy strategy to improve the health literacy environment in Australia and individuals’ self-care capabilities”, a key recommendation in CHP Australia’s 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission.

Low health literacy is associated with a range of poor health and policy outcomes and, concerning, up to 60% of Australians do not have adequate health literacy skills to access, understand, appraise and use information to make responsible and informed health-related decisions.

COVID-19 has clearly illustrated how engaging consumers in their health management and empowering them with the knowledge and skills required to prevent disease and infection, is essential to reducing preventable health problems.

CHP Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Deon Schoombie, explains

“Health literacy plays a pivotal role in informing and guiding our health behaviours and lifestyle choices, and is a key enabler of greater self-care and preventive health action.”

“We are encouraged to see this often underappreciated and undervalued component of health, prevention, and greater self-care getting clear policy attention. However, ongoing investment, and structural and cultural reforms in Australia’s health and care systems will be necessary to equitably address Australia’s inadequate levels of health literacy, and enable greater self-care.”

“Engaging, supporting, and empowering individuals to participate in the proactive management of their health should be defining characteristics of Australia’s health care systems, services, and supports.”